What's Up With All The Olympic Athletic Tape?

Covering the perfectly toned muscles of many of this year's Olympic athletes: Kinesio athletic tape.  Regarded by physical therapists as a way to relieve pain and heal muscle injuries, is this tape just a trend or is it really effective?  Should you recommend it to your patients?

How does this athletic tape work?

Kinesio tape is modeled to resemble the thickness and elasticity of skin.  The company claims that the tape supports injured muscles and joints without limiting the athlete's range of motion like a traditional splint or brace.  The tape also relieves pain by lifting the skin allowing increased blood flow to the injured area.

Who Is Using Kinesio?

Celeb athletes like Olympian Kerri Walsh, soccer player David Beckham and cyclist Lance Armstrong have praised Kinesio athletic tape for it's effects on sore muscles, but is the tape effective for the everyday athlete?  Small studies have shown the tape to be effective.  The New York Times blog Well reports that in a study of 42 athletes with shoulder injuries, half were given Kinesio tape and the other half were given a placebo tape. Participants who received the Kinesio tape reported immediate pain relief.  A second study showed that application of the tape to healthy test subjects increased range of motion of the trunk area.

Should You Recommend Kinesio to Your Patients?

Given the popularity of this tape and its prominence on athletes this Olympic season, your patients with sprains and strains may be asking about Kinesio.  Kinesio can be purchased online and comes in a single use package for about $5.99.  The package contains instructions for self application.  It may just be worth a try!